One Month Later: The Unintended Consequences of the Big Boy Bed

Remember a few weeks ago when I talked in the Snippets about how “well” nap time was going, now that Nathan has moved to a big boy bed? No? Well, never fear, because today you’re getting the play-by-play. I am happy to announce, however, that bedtime at night is going swimmingly. No more three strikes – it’s a home run every time.

Each day’s nap time begins the same way.

“Are you ready for a nap? Let’s go take a nap in Momma’s bed!”

Nathan dutifully heads to my room, laughing as he tries to climb onto the tall bed. I lift him up and put my provisions in place on the nightstand – Tervis tumbler filled with decaf iced tea, iPad, phone, and TV remote. Despite my clear instructions, the nap message always becomes confused with an invitation to a jump-jump, and Stella, who by this point has used her spring-loaded limbs to reach the bed, joins in with the jump-jump fun. Daisy, who is shorter, fatter, and more nap-inclined, gives me The Look which indicates she needs a boost onto the bed that she is dreading reaching because rest is, in fact, not imminent despite my indications otherwise.

I use my champion cat-herding skills to corral the little ones and encourage them to settle down, which is more successful on some days than it is on others. I pronounce that it’s time to snuggle with Momma and settle Nathan into the crook of my arm. Not unlike corralling the dogs, this effort is more successful on some days than others.

Sometimes, the call to snuggle is well and dutifully received, but most typically, the snuggle time necessarily leads to the introduction of “strong physical cues” that it is nap time. And by “strong physical cues” I mean holding his hands so he doesn’t poke my eyes out and putting my leg over both of his so he can’t kick me. But don’t worry – no toddlers are ever harmed in the making of a strong physical cues blog post.

Then it’s time for me to break out my repertoire of songs.

I begin with “Little Boxes” (yes, the theme song from seasons 1-3 of Weeds – don’t judge me), followed by perennial favorite “You Are My Sunshine” and bluegrass classic “Down to the River to Pray”. Those three were my go-to songs for nap time during the beach day trips this summer, but alas, the second two may have to be removed from the rotation soon. Too many of the lyrics can be signed by Nathan, extending the waking period beyond the desired time limit (you…sun…happy…please…night…sleeping…cried…down…pray…sister…down…down…down…).

If his eyes aren’t beginning to flutter by the time I get through the third song (and, increasingly, that is the case), I launch into two back-ups. The first is “Jesus Loves the Little Children” which has a soothing melody and usually gets a choral repeat or two. Each time I sing it, I vaguely wonder if it’s offensive or at least a little un-PC because of its reference to children who are “red and yellow, black and white” but I keep singing it because I figure it’s no worse for his developing psyche than “Little Boxes”. The grand finale of “Lucky One” comes next, because by this time I’ve already used my singing voice to mock suburbia and offend several ethnic groups, so I might as well hit the Inappropriate Messages for Toddlers Trifecta by throwing a reference about one-night stands into the mix.

If, by this point, Nathan hasn’t fallen victim to the Sandman, I repeat as necessary, careful to skip over any tunes that might prompt a new round of sign language. When at long last the whirling dervish drifts off to blissful sleep, I extricate myself from his (now dead weight) body and spend the next two hours thinking of all the things I could be doing that are more productive than stretching out on my bed watching Hulu on the iPad because I dare not leave the room for fear of waking the sleeping midget (although I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed both seasons of Downton Abbey during nap time over the past month and have started over).

So now that I suspect you may have a few questions, I’ll pose what I think they might be to myself and provide answers:

Maybe he’s ready to give up the nap. Have you thought of that?

Why, yes, I have. I even tried skipping it once or twice with poor results. But whether he’s asleep in my bed with me sitting beside him or skipping the nap altogether, I’m still not able to be productive. So…might as well enjoy a little bit of quiet and guarantee a more pleasant child in the evening hours.

Could you carry him to his room and put him in his bed once he falls asleep?

Theoretically, yes. However, my previous attempts have had, at best, mixed results. I do plan to try it again, but the risk/reward ratio isn’t currently in my favor. No matter how long Nathan has been asleep, whether it’s a few minutes or a few hours, once he’s awakened there’s no going back.

You know the old saying, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” – can you try to take a nap with him?

Again, in theory, yes. But only twice of all the times I’ve tried it in the past month have I been successful, and one of those times I woke up with a nasty headache.

So although wrestling the baby tiger isn’t all that much fun and despite knowing that my small window of time to get things done each day has evaporated, I still cherish nap time with my little guy. All children are transformed into angels when they sleep, and Nathan is no different. As I watch him sleep and feel his warm little body next to me, I am transformed, too.

As long as I don’t think about the dirt accumulating in the rest of the house…


  1. Francis says

    I love knowing that I am not the only mom with WWE tactics… you really do have to make sure the legs stay down, a toe in the eye is not as fun as it sounds!

  2. says

    How about easing him out of naptime by waiting till later in the afternoon? Then wake him up after an hour or so, so he can still sleep at night?

    • Andi says

      The thing is, Galit, that he still needs at least a two hour nap most days – I think it’s because he’s so active. An hour just isn’t enough, and with a sister involved in activities, it’s just not practical to put him down for the night any earlier than 8pm.

  3. says

    Not trying to sound ‘preachy’, but, you NEED a tent – haha. Seriously. It keeps ’em in and safe :) We have this one (, but any SMALL tent would do. When my little guy tried to stop napping, the tent got him back sleeping 3 hrs every afternoon! Good luck. I hope my kiddo naps until he’s 10!

  4. Adrienne K says

    You have just described my life from September 1998 to about 2001/2002. This was my son. The only way he ever napped was being held as an infant or when we laid down with him as a toddler. He had a full-sized twin bed so we usually laid down on the bed with him and when he was OUT OUT, we could sneak out of the room. Moving him was never an option, he’d wake up.

    When he was an infant, I told myself: “If the worst thing that happens to me in this lifetime is that I spent a year of my life holding a baby while he napped, I’ve lived a GOOD life.” Like Nathan, M was fine and dandy at regular bed time. I had a pediatrician tell me that would never develop good sleeping skills if I kept up with my patterns (he nursed in bed with me and this nap thing.) Well, he always has been a fine night-time sleeper. He’s 14 now and still rarely sleeps-in. I think we gave up on napping around the time he was 4. I did wonder if I should give up early but he was cranky at night – and he’d fall asleep on his own if he was over-tired. So we stuck to “the system” – and it gave Kev an opportunity to nap on weekends because he almost always fell asleep with him – it gave me the chance to nap, too, when I needed it.

    I’m so glad it wasn’t just me. :)